Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday said the people of Bihar and his party’s allies in the Opposition alliance should protect votes even if they have to pick up arms to do so, ABP News reported. He was addressing a press conference in Patna after Opposition parties alleged attempts were being made to manipulate Lok Sabha election results to favour the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.
The former minister recalled the times when booth capturing in the state was common. “Today booth capturing does not take place but there are efforts being made to loot the election results,” he alleged. “If an attempt like this is made this time, then I urge the people of Bihar and the ‘mahagathbandhan’ to pick up weapons to protect their votes.”
Kushwaha, whose party quit the NDA last year, warned the alliance’s leaders not to attempt to manipulate results. “There is tremendous public anger and blood may spill on the streets, for which we shall not be held responsible,” PTI quoted him as saying.
Kushwaha said the party had received news about officials having no answers when asked about a vehicle carrying electronic voting machines that had been stopped by Opposition workers, The Indian Express reported. “Incidents like these create doubts in the people’s mind, which is legitimate,” he added. “There is anger among the people and the state and central government are responsible for handling it. If they won’t do it, then the people and the ‘mahagathbandhan’ will not sit quietly.”
Former Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Rabri Devi also released a statement questioning the discovery of voting machines used in elections outside strongrooms, where they are supposed to be kept till counting day, in several parts of the state.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission of India clarified that electronic voting machines were “absolutely safe” in strongrooms and allegations of new machines being moved around, allegedly to replace voting machines used during polling, were false.
Opposition leaders had alleged that two trucks carrying voting machines were caught in Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Padesh, and candidates were prevented from guarding strongrooms in the state’s Ghazipur district. On Monday, the Rashtriya Janata Dal claimed that its workers along with Congressmen had detained a truck full of electronic voting machines while it was roaming near the strongroom for voting machines used in Bihar’s Saran and Maharajganj Lok Sabha seats.